double knee replacement : LUSENET : About Joints : One Thread

What are the pros and cons of having both knees replaced at the same time? I'm particularly interested in post-discharge issues.

-- Cynthia T. Morse (, January 05, 2000


Hi, Cynthia... I am not a medical expert, but a patient with Osteonecrosis throughout my skeleton. So far, I've had one hip replaced and one knee (not at the same time, of course!. I can tell you from experience that just doing anything post-op with one joint done at a time is a major undertaking. Stairs especially are very hard to navigate (I cannot imagine doing them with double knee surgery), arising from a seated position is difficult, and of course, walking is very difficult for the first few weeks. My own wonderful Ortho. surgeon told me he would not put me through that when I asked him to please do both knees at once. My knees are totally dead with the insides of the bone now turned to mush, yet he refused to do both together. I was a little put off by his response, but had little choice but to agree with him. NOW, two months after my TKR, I am blessing him! Let me tell you, it's worth every moment of pain and discomfort to be rid of my ON/AVN ruined knee, but the recovery period is painful and very physically limiting. Truthfully, I've seen people who have had both joints done at the same time while I was in the rehab hospital two years ago, and I can't help but wonder what life was like for them after they went home. As for "pros" of having both done at same time, I would imagine that the biggest one is that you save yourself one hospitalization. Beyond that, I cant' think of a single thing. Good luck to you... M. Shanahan

-- Marie Shanahan (, July 09, 2000.

Thank you, I am scheduled to have my left knee replaced April 8,2003. Both knees are shot,but the left knee is the worst one! My Dr. won't do both together either!After thinking it over and reading your letter I think he is right!Thanks again ,Russ

-- Russell I. Bailey (, March 21, 2003.

Perhaps I am adding my comments too soon but I had both knees replace on 10/6/03 as of today 11/20/03 I am still hurting big time. I was in the hospital for 10 days, came home, used a walker for about 2 weeks and weaned myself from it. I have therapy 3 days a week, after therapy and the following day pain is unreal, as days go on it gets just a little bit better, I can go up stairs very slowly, but I shuffle when I walk. I tire very easily, ICE, ICE, seems to be the answer, I am recovering alone and it makes it difficult to ice down both knees at the same time. I began driving after about 10 days after being released from the hospital. I sometimes wonder if I should of done one knee at a time but both were very bad and I wanted to get a move on. At 57 years old I was not able to do anything, previously I rode my bike to work 11 miles each way, I was very active but the past 2 years I could not even get on a walking program, I gained weight and felt awful. I am hoping to get back to a normal life soon. I will keep this site posted as I progress.



-- jay meyer (, November 20, 2003.


-- linda robbins (, December 19, 2003.

February 03, 2004 is my DKR Day. 5 years ago the left knee "went" & was controlled with medication. 8 months ago the right knee went also. I had to use a cane for walking & could NOT go up or down stairs. I called the surgeon (he had already done the X-rays & I knew it would be a necessity - eventually). Eventually was here NOW. We started the paperwork & it is in progress. All dental appointments have been scheduled & blood donations arranged for. I have met a gal who had a double total 7 years ago (March 19)...she calls the date.....her "Ankneeversary" She has been most supportive & related her experiences (which were VERY positive). I have the upmost faith in my surgeon (his attitude is "#1 - medication, #2 - cortizone shots IN the knee, & #3 - surgery. The ONLY thing I am the least bit "queezy" about is the anesthesia....I have never had an epidural (spinal). Tho I have had 5 children (twilight sleep), I am seeking more "info" on "going to sleep". I am very healthy (other then just diabetic (control with meds). Doing the exercises BEFORE surgery. Will leave a note AFTER surgery. From sunny Florida - Pat

-- Patricia Rogerson German (, December 30, 2003.

Both my knees are bad and have been for about 10years. I said i'd never have knee replacement surgery but in the last 4 months my knees have really gotten bad and can hardly walk. I am considering double knee surgery and will discuss it with the Ortho tomorrow(3/13/04)I've heard lots of both pros and cons so I guess the decision is up to me... homer

-- Homer Schomer (, March 31, 2004.

My surgeon has just come back to work after double knee replacement and will do mine on Jun 10. My greatest concerns are 1)length of recovery time after surgery and 2)life of implant. I am having both done together because I am a coward and would never go back a second time. Therefore I worry that my implants may not live as long as I do. I have been told only 10-15 years and I am only 63.

-- Joan Crossland (, April 25, 2004.

My husband underwent double knee replacement 4 weeks ago. I am his nursemaid and helper. It is essential that if you undergo double knee rethisplacement that you have a caregiver, in my opinion. He is doing great. He is 62 years old and has needed the replacement surgery for many years, but was told to wait as long as possible. Two years ago he began the tests to schedule the replacements and found that he first had to undergo quintuple bypass surgery. That was quite a shock. But he recovered speedily from that surgery and has done well with this double knee replacement. He came home from the hospital after only 5 days and has been returning 3 times a week for physical therapy. It is not an easy recovery, the physical therapy is painful. But the surgeon and the therapists are well- versed on this type of recovery and pain meds keep the recovery somewhat comfortable. My husband takes his pain meds before the rehab and then I get him home and he sleeps for several hours and rests much of the next day. As each week goes by, he feels a little less pain, and is less exhausted. But we take each day as it comes and when he has some bad days, I try to cheer him. He got very depressed about the third week, but doc and I decided that he wasn't taking his pain meds frequently enough. So make sure if you have double knee replacement, you pamper yourself and do whatever you can to stay patient. Expect some bad days when you are more tired and your knees just don't want to work as well as you know they can. Each week shows a big improvement in my eyes and I have to remind my husband of that. He doesn't see the improvement as I do. Doctors andn therapists tell us that it will take three months to feel really good. The first week after the surgery when he was beginning the recovery, he was sorry that he had both done at once. He saw the others in rehab who had done only one knee at a time and they had much less pain and could get around much easier. But now at four weeks out, he is happy that he did it this way. He will be back to normal---actually BETTER than normal---while those who only had one knee done will be getting ready to undergo the same procedure all over again.

-- Betty Spencer (, May 13, 2004.

I had both knees replaced April 1,2004 as of today June 8,2004 I can bend one knee 115 % THE OTHER 107 %. Going up stairs is ok but going down difficult. Nights are hard but I find if I do the excercises before sleep the muscles react better after staying in one position for over an hour. I am now getting 3 or 4 hours a night but up until last week I wakened each hour and had to stretch the legs. I suffered rotatary cuff damage from pulling myself up by the handles at the head of the bed and the pain from that has kept the knee pain in perspective the shoulder is soo painfull.

I only need 2 advill mostdays but will resort to extra strenghth tylonel or #3 if bad which is infrequent now. I continue to do the excercises recommended plus 10 to 20 minutes stationary bike,swimming doing flexibility excercises 2x aweek and walking at the very least 20 minutes a day. I am female 62 years old ,hope this helps someone

-- Shirley Smith (, June 08, 2004.

I had a double knee replacement on March 18,2004. As of today (about 3 months later) I can walk for 4 or 5 hours (shopping) resting several times inbetween. The pain or stiffness is much less now. I can sit and walk with no pain but after sitting or laying down for a period of time, knees get stiff and I shuffle for the first few steps. Since about 3 weeks ago my ankles swell. Doctor said this is common and "this to will pass" but sitting is the worst thing unless you keep your leg elevated (which I did not do). Now I elevate my legs and there is less swelling. I feel there are more pros on having both knees replaced at the same time tho the doctor says it will be nine months to a year before I will feel really good. Good luck.

-- R.M.Maffei (, June 14, 2004.

On Friday, July 2, the day after my 53rd birthday, my ortho specialist and I together with my husband discussed double knee replacement, after a course of hyalgan shots, cortisone shots and the inevitability of ceasing Bextra, which has kept me functioning with two arthritic knees for the past 3 months, due to potential kidney damage. What a mouthful! Anyway, the pain in back, I'm miserable and need to now go down this road. I am diabetic, morbidly overweight and as if that's not enough, depressed. My husband and I talked and agreed to address the weight issue, but want to put off the surgery as long as possible. Let you know what we decide and when.

-- Carol Roman (MYBANDIT@COMCAST.NET), July 06, 2004.

I had double knee replacement surgery on June 4--five weeks ago tomorrow. I am so pleased I jumped in and did both...I know I was one of those pain-averse people who never would have gone back for the second one. When I went in for my pre-op visit, the x-rays showed that my "good" knee was worse than my bad one because the bone was becoming malformed to accomodate the degenerative arthritis. I was in the hospital 5 days and then sent to the in-house rehab for an additional 6 days. Luckily I had good insurance to make this possible. When I went home I was fully ambulatory using a walker. I was greatful to have a potty-chair, shower chair, and a daughter with a one-floor home (not to mention a 3-year old and a 2-month old). But the transition to home life and a visiting PT, made life very bearable. Luckily my surgeon's philosophy was, "If it hurts, don't do it." Take pain pills before therapy, and stop when the pain begins, a philosophy which my PT also embraced (having been in the business for 20 years). I now get out every day, walk about 4 blocks twice a day, do my exercises once or twice a day. I have been to two movies, go shopping, and have extremely good extention and flex (110 degree bend) already. And yes you should know, I am a wimp where pain is concerned and am absolutely amazed at how smoothly this surgery has gone. My incisions are healed, and I am hoping my surgeon will allow me to return to my water therapy (for a bad back) routine next week. Just for comparison, I am 54 years old and have had bad arthritis since I was 10 and thus was a candidate for knee replacement at my age because of the damage done over the last 40 years. Just as a side note, my surgeon's nurse said they are seeing better recovery rates in people who go for the double-knee replacements than they are in the ones who do them seperately, something about being dedicated the first time around and slacking off on rehab the second time around. I also firmly believe that the skills/qualifications of the surgeon are tantamount to success. My PT said she can almost tell who's surgery will be successful by the name of the surgeon who did the operation. My surgeon is top on her list, especially since he is the one everyone goes to when their first surgery failed and they have to have reconstruction done on the bad surgery (one of my roommates in rehab was recovering from her sixth knee surgery and had gone to my surgeon for her current reconstruction). Good luck to anyone considering this surgery--my advice is to go for broke and do both.

-- Susie Franklin (, July 08, 2004.

I joined the realm of the interested when I was told at an appointment today- that my only course for treating my knees is now TKR's. As one of the other writers mentioned- it is my "good" knee giving me grief at the moment; the other looks far worse on the films. Only last year, I had arthroscopy on the "worse" knee- with little if any improvement and that surgeon should have recommended the knee replacement then. I will be lucky if my meager insurance policy will cover- but am considering doing both at once, despite the obvious hardship associated with that. I, too, think I'd chicken out with doing the second if I did them seperately! Any comments are welcome. I'd love to hear from anyone who tried the hylagan? That is not an option for me at the moment. I am 53 and active....will have to make this decision within the next couple weeks. (PS: the address refers to an association with feline rescue/rehab. LOL) Thanks!- Anna

-- Anna Hamilton (, August 16, 2004.

I have my consulatation today for double TKR. I understand the pain is suppose to be severe, but living with the knee pain now seems overwhelming. I want to return to a normal life (being able to walk). I am only 46 but the doctor has said he would do it after Synvisc no longer works. My insurance does not cover but I feel the $30 - 40,000.00 is worth my quality of life. I am hoping that my age and health (great) makes it easier. I'mm interested in hearing from anyone that is close to my age that has done this. Thanks.

-- Edie Swanson (, January 12, 2005.

Hi, Anyone who is out there, I'm 47, and had knee replacement surgery on 1/5/05. Was in good shape, (when knee would allow), suffered for years w/bad knee...wanted to improve quality of life...walking was becoming increasingly difficult. I so regret the surgery. I have constant pain & stiffness (far worse than before surgery), feel totally depressed and discouraged and just want my life back. Is there anyone out there that can give me some encouragement? I have therapy 3x per really hard, still on pain meds 4- 5x a day...great difficulty sleeping, going up & down stairs, sitting for longer that 20 minutes. Help! Thanks. Ellen

-- Ellen (, March 10, 2005.

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